What is a print-on-demand business?

Source: Bizvibe Blog

It is difficult to discuss the best internet businesses in 2021 without mentioning the print-on-demand business.

It is one of the easiest businesses you can start today with very little or nothing.

This explains why so many internet entrepreneurs are flocking in that direction.

This article will be discussing the print-on-demand business extensively, and answer any question you may have about it.

Are you ready for this?

Let’s beat it!

What is a Print-on-demand business?

Have you ever seen a beautifully designed shirt, cap, etc. of friends or colleagues that appear identical but they had different designs on them?

It is most likely that this shirt or cap was the product of a print-on-demand business!

So, what is a print-on-demand business?

It is an online business in which a person partners with a supplier to customize their products with a unique design, and sell these products to customers on a per-order basis, under a personal brand.

Consequently, the owner of the print-on-demand business does not pay the supplier for the products until after it has been sold. In addition, he does not need to buy these products in bulk or store them in a warehouse.

Furthermore, in the print-on-demand business, everything from the printing to shipping of the product is handled by the supplier. All the business owner needs to do is set everything up. Thereafter, the supplier pretty much takes care of everything else.

How does a print-on-demand business work?

We will use an example to explain how the print-on-demand business operates.

For instance, John is a graphics designer and likes to create his designs. He then creates a beautiful design of a boy riding a bicycle on a tight rope.

After that, he uploads this design on a t-shirt mock-up image on a print-on-demand portal like Printify, Printful, or Etsy, etc.

Thereafter, he adds his title and description and then publishes this t-shirt on his Shopify site or to your preferred shop platform.

Anytime a customer makes an order for this t-shirt, the order as well as the payment, is sent to your print on demand portal, where they print your design on the t-shirt.

This print-on-demand portal then packs the order, prints a shipping label, and sends this order directly to your customer.

The tracking number of this order is also sent to the customer’s email, to help him track the product, as it is in transit.

In summary, a print-on-demand business owner does not pay for any product. All he does is to get a design and promote the products with this design in his online shop.

Anytime a customer pays for any product, the money is used to print this product and send it to the customer, while the business owner keeps the profit.

Talk about a business that requires little capital to begin!

No wonder more internet entrepreneurs are getting involved in this business.

Uses of a Print-on-demand business

Apart from owning an income-generating business, a print on demand business can also be established for the following reasons:

  1. Test a business idea

A print-on-demand business is perfect for testing the viability of a related business idea.

Since it costs little to set it up and requires no inventory, the business owner has little at stake if the business fails.

However, if the print-on-demand business becomes successful, the business owner can then confirm the viability of his business idea, and then go ahead to set it up.

This is what makes the print-on-demand business model a perfect way to test the viability of a business idea.

2. Monetize an audience you have built

If you have a large following on social media and have been wondering how to increase your earnings from these social media accounts, a print-on-demand business may just be what you need.

Once you have it set up, you can advertise your print-on-demand products to your audience on social media.

Research data shows that your audience is most likely to buy your products since they already like you. This will help to increase the funds you are making from your social media audience.

3. Create unique products for a niche

A print-on-demand business can be used to produce unique products that will appeal to a select group of persons. For instance, producing a unique design that will appeal to gamers, will certainly attract their attention.

4. Customize a gift

A print-on-demand business can also be used to customize a gift you wish to present to a loved one, a team, or a superior. This could also be a reason for opening a print-on-demand business.

5. Advertise your photos

You can use a print-on-demand business to advertise your photography, by placing your photos on some products like T-shirts, caps, etc.

The attention these products attract on the internet will bring customers to check out your photography.

Pros and Cons of a Print-on-demand business

As you would appreciate, almost everything that has advantages has some drawbacks.

In this section, we will be discussing some of the advantages and drawbacks that come with running a print-on-demand business. Find them below:


  1. Low investment and low risk

The cost of setting up a print-on-demand business is far lesser than the amount required to be a retailer of the same products sold in a print-on-demand business.

This is because, in a print-on-demand business, the business owner does not pay for anything until the product has been bought. The only thing he may have to pay for is to set up the online shop.

However, a retailer of similar products sold in a print-on-demand store will have to pay for a physical store and all the products in the store before he can startup. This is besides the cost of paying staff, utilities, and other expenses that come with running a physical store.

2. Higher profit margin

A natural consequence of only having to pay a smaller amount of money to operate a business is that the business owner gets to keep most of the profit he makes. This is what print-on-demand business owners enjoy.

3. Create products quickly

Another benefit of having a print-on-demand business is that you can create products quickly. Since all the business owner needs is a unique design for the product. Once he has it, he can quickly put up those products for sale.

4. Logistics are taken care of

A print-on-demand business owner does not have to worry about the logistics involved in moving customer products to their location. His supplier takes care of the shipping of goods and sends the tracking numbers to customers.

This is especially good news for entrepreneurs that do not love managing the logistics part of a business.


  1. Thinner profit margins

One of the challenges that come with owning a print-on-demand business is that the profit margin per product could be very low. This is partly because products here are bought in small quantities, so the business owner will not enjoy a reasonable discount.

2. No control over logistics

Since the logistics of the business are handled by the supplier, it means that the print-on-demand business owner has very little control over what happens after a product has been shipped out to a customer.

If a customer makes any complaint about the delivery of their product, the business owner will have to contact the supplier to get information.

In addition, the business owner has limited control over which logistics company is used to move products to customers.

The supplier may select a poor logistics company based on cost considerations. Such decisions will hurt the customer retention of the print-on-demand business.

3. Limited customization options

Your ability to customize products in a print-on-demand business is not as open as it may seem to an outside observer. Before deciding on a customization option, you have to consider the factors such as base costs, printing techniques, customization options available, and sizes available.

The nature of any of these factors will at anytime influence the customization option a print-on-demand business owner can create.

4. How to create a Print on Demand Business

To create a print-on-demand business, you would need a print-on-demand business services provider.

Below are some of the best Print on Demand Business service providers available for you to take advantage of:


A name that easily comes to mind when discussing print-on-demand service providers is Printful.

Founded in July 2013, Printful has gone ahead to establish itself as a popular choice among users of Print-on-demand service providers.

Among other things, it is popular for the wide range of products it makes available for customization, its easy-to-use mockup generators, and options for adding your branding to the unboxing experience.

Furthermore, Printful offers a variety of printing techniques for users to select from. Below are some of the printing techniques it makes available for users:

  1. Direct to garment printing: Printing ink directly on the material of the clothing.
  2. Cut & sow: In this type of printing, the clothing is printed on in pieces and then sewn back together, to get a perfect print across the entire fabric.
  3. Embroidery: It is a complex printing technique that Printful also offers.

Printful also offers printing services for pillows, mugs, towels, aprons, etc.


It was founded in 2015 and has grown to become a popular name among print-on-demand service providers. It provides print-on-demand services for regular products like t-shirt, hoodies, caps, etc.

What makes Printify stand out among other print-on-demand service providers is that its international vendor network enables it to provide unique white-labeled products that may be difficult to find anywhere.

What’s more, the platform boasts over 200 products available for business owners to print their unique designs on.

Although Printify is free to use, it also offers a premium subscription that is available for $29 per month. With this premium subscription, users will enjoy a 20% discount on all products of their choice.

This will effectively increase the profitability of the print-on-demand business owner.


Running a print-on-demand business can be very lucrative if you learn how to do it effectively.

This article has tried to provide a guide on how to do this.

Feel free to click on the links provided as they will educate you further on this topic and help you start taking quality steps towards starting your click-on-demand business.

Wishing you success as you begin.


Titus Ojo

Titus is an Economist and he has taken courses in personal finance. He is an economic analyst by day and a blogger by night.

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